Foxconn will produce ventilators at its controversial Wisconsin plant

Photo by Joshua Lott for The Verge

Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant, the controversial recipient of billions of dollars in tax subsidies and the focus of multiple Verge investigations, will produce ventilators with medical device firm Medtronic. The partnership was announced by Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak in an interview with CNBC, who said that Foxconn will be manufacturing ventilators based on its PB-560 design in the next four to six weeks.

Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant was first announced way back in 2017 as a $10 billion LCD factory. It was labeled the “eighth wonder of the world” by President Trump, but Foxconn’s plans for the site appear to have changed repeatedly over the years. At various points, Foxconn has said that it would build a smaller LCD factory, no factory at all, or that it would produce other items like a robot coffee kiosk. Now, it appears the factory will, in part at least, produce ventilators, after its planned opening next month.

Medtronic’s CEO was unable to share the numbers of ventilators that Foxconn will produce during his interview with CBNC. However, in a statement provided to Reuters, Foxconn said that it’s hoping to speed up production time so that the ventilators can be produced as soon as possible, and that medical and technical personnel from the two companies were working closely together. The partnership came about after Medtronic open-sourced the design for its PB-560 ventilator, which has been downloaded 70,000 times, according to Ishrak.

Introduced in 2010, the PB-560 is sold in 35 countries around the world.
 Image: Medtronic

Foxconn isn’t the only company rushing to produce ventilators in the face of a shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tesla is producing a sub-component of Medtronic’s PB-980 ventilator, and is also working on a ventilator design of its own constructed using its car components. Meanwhile Ford and General Motors have also announced plans to help with ventilator production, with Ford hoping to produce around 50,000 of the devices in the next 100 days in Michigan, Reuters notes. Even British vacuum manufacturer Dyson has won a contract to produce 10,000 ventilators for the UK government.

 
 

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